The money pit – how doctors fall in
With income-growth stagnation among doctors being exacerbated by the pandemic, more and more doctors are finding themselves feeling a pinch in the pocket. Once adjusted for inflation rates, the average salary of doctors has been almost identical since the 1970s1. This is true across all specialties—from psychiatry to surgery and even general practice. And with the cost of medical school increasing yearly coupled with skyrocketing inflation rates, being a physician isn’t as lucrative as it has been. In fact, it’s probably the least lucrative it’s ever been.
This monetary chasm exists even beyond physician’s personal lives. Practices are struggling too, and with the pandemic worsening many already-existing negative trends in healthcare, up to 70% of private practices feared they wouldn’t survive2. With the changing paradigms of providing healthcare in a pandemic and post-pandemic world, insurance companies have also come into hard times. An already fraught system that has been reproduced nowhere in the world is failing, with major insurance conglomerates owing doctors and hospitals billions in back compensation3.
When healthcare becomes too expensive and inaccessible; when healthcare becomes too bureaucratic; when insurance companies become Ponzi schemes functioning on faith alone; when the government regulates more than stimulates; the healthcare system is bound to collapse. In fact, the system of healthcare in our country is so convoluted and reliant on insurance companies to set the system in motion, that it’s bound to fail as insurance companies fail. Doctors and practices need to consolidate, the government needs to revamp its participation, and hospitals need to restructure, if medicine in America is to have a future.
With more and more doctors abandoning practice, there is a massive shift in healthcare coming4. The good news is policy experts are already drafting solutions. Dr. Marty Makary is a healthcare policy expert and oncologist at Johns Hopkins who’s authored a book on the subject and actively implements and tests better systems. An interview with him, for those interested in what comes next and how to get started, can be found here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2019/10/25/what-broke-american-health-care-and-how-to-fix-it/?sh=3aa315947edf.
Written by Jeremiah Ockunzzi, courtesy of Dr. Bart Rademaker MD.